Is cybercrime going to affect your insurance?
It’s no secret that the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted every corner of the business world. From executives and board members, to junior employees and interns – the virus has not been discriminatory in the way it has affected finances, flexibility and the future of business.
However, there is one group that has benefited from the unprecedented coronavirus circumstances - cybercriminals. Check Point Research has shown a 30 per cent increase in Covid-19 related cyber-attacks over the first two weeks of May, with repeated attacks on organisations including the NHS. Even the UN has had to issue warnings regarding the threats.
One of the biggest contributors to this has been the rise in working from home caused by the pandemic. Remote working strategies expose vulnerabilities that can open the door for cyber criminals to exploit. This is particularly problematic for freelancers, who must be especially wary of the risks that could see them affected by costly client claims.
Data security and cyber crime
Since the start of the pandemic, the number of phishing and invoice fraud emails reported has rocketed. Cyber criminals have pounced on uncertainty and new ways of working with more sophisticated emails that look exactly like communications from a trusted customer.
For freelancers, the risk is that falling for these attacks could leave them open to negligence claims, particularly if they are handling client money. Making a payment to a fraudster leaves clients out of pocket, and the client may pursue the freelancer through legal channels for compensation.
Additionally, most freelancers in such roles use online platforms to issue invoices. If their account is compromised, criminals may change the bank details to their own and issue invoices.
This can lead to a client mistakenly making payments to a cyber-criminal, suffering a loss as a result and potentially giving them grounds to pursue the contractor under cyber liability.
Enabling all security options available can help mitigate against this risk. For example, two-factor authentication acts as an additional protection measure (if passwords are compromised) by requiring a second method of authorisation, preventing criminals from gaining access.
Contractors who work closely with client data face greater threats while working remotely.. Working from home means many people may access work accounts and data from personal devices or email clients, which, if compromised, presents a significant risk.
For example, a personal email inbox containing confidential attachments, or security vulnerabilities in devices could see sensitive data being breached more easily.
To prevent these mistakes from leading to a client dispute that could ultimately lead to a professional indemnity claim brought, it’s important that where possible files are secured in line with client requirements (eg password encryption or sent via a secure server) and device software updated to the latest version.
The need for immediacy
In the current climate, there is increased pressure on all workers to be ultra-responsive. When this is the case, it’s easy to slip up.
If immediacy is the order of the day, it’s easy for contractors to make mistakes and email a file to the wrong recipient, or send personally identifiable data in an insecure way. Again, this could cause a dispute with clients which leads to a professional indemnity claim.
Follow your client’s protocol if you suspect a security breach, and inform your insurer at the earliest opportunity so they can help find a resolution. Time is of the essence in these situations, so it’s important to act quickly to mitigate the potential damage as much as possible.
Liam Greene is underwriting manager at Markel Direct
Is Cloud Computing Environmentally Friendly?
Cloud adoption was well underway before the coronavirus pandemic hit but it has definitely accelerated more organisations to make a move.
Research from NetApp has found that a large majority of users (86%) felt the cloud has become essential to their business and many of them saw it as playing a greater role in their storage strategies. Some 87% viewed storing data in the cloud as easier than other methods.
Flexera, revealed that almost all organisations are using at least one cloud with 99% of respondents saying they are using at least one public or private cloud. 97% of respondents utilise at least one public cloud, while 80% have at least one private cloud. 78% of respondents are using hybrid cloud.
By pursuing a green approach, Accenture analysis suggests migrations to the public cloud can reduce global carbon (CO2) emissions by 59 million tons of CO2 per year. This represents a 5.9% reduction in total IT emissions and equates to taking 22 million cars off the road.
A greener cloud
Selecting a carbon-thoughtful provider is the first step towards a sustainable cloud-first journey. Cloud providers set different corporate commitments towards sustainability, which in turn determine how they plan, build, power, operate, and retire their data centres.
The Google Cloud platform has committed to operating its data centres carbon-free 24/7 by 2030, rather than rely on annual direct energy matches. In 2020, Google became the first company to achieve a zero lifetime net carbon footprint, meaning the company has eliminated its entire legacy operational carbon emissions. According to Google, their data centers are twice as energy-efficient as a typical data centre, and they now deliver seven times more computing power for the same amount of electrical power than they did six years ago.
Microsoft has committed to shifting its data centres to 100% supply of renewable energy by 2025 through power purchase agreements (PPAs). The company has launched its ambition to be carbon negative by 2030 and by 2050 to remove all carbon emitted by the company since 1975. Microsoft Azure’s customers can access a carbon calculator that tracks emissions associated with their own workload on the cloud.
A new forecast from International Data Corporation (IDC) shows that the continued adoption of cloud computing could prevent the emission of more than 1 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) from 2021 through 2024.
"The idea of 'green IT' has been around now for years, but the direct impact of hyperscale computing can have on CO2 emissions is getting increased notice from customers, regulators, and investors and it's starting to factor into buying decisions," said Cushing Anderson, programme vice president at IDC. "For some, going 'carbon neutral' will be achieved using carbon offsets, but designing datacentres from the ground up to be carbon neutral will be the real measure of contribution. And for advanced cloud providers, matching workloads with renewable energy availability will further accelerate their sustainability goals."
Accenture analysis shows that customising applications to be cloud-native can stretch carbon emission reduction to 98%. Customisation requires designing applications to take full advantage of on-demand computing, higher asset utilisation rates, and dynamic allocation of computing resources. Cloud computing is also a way of reducing the use of resources such as paper, electricity, packing materials, and much more.
For companies striving to cut carbon emissions and to become more sustainable, cloud computing is definitely an option. Taking the steps to choose the right providers and making the businesses more efficient is key to having the wanted end result.